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Hippy with a "Y"

Hippy with a "Y"
Posted on 10/11/2018
Jeffco mom Julie Barnett goes over materials for her daughter Sadie under the guidance of HIPPY home visitor Penny Roach.It turns out there are two kinds of hippies in the world. Some have long hair, bellbottoms, and love beads and some are home visitors in Jeffco, like Penny Roach, who’s sometimes asked if she’s a 60s free spirit who just can’t let go.

“They look at my shirt, and my age, and yeah, no. HIPPY stands for Home Instruction of Parents with Preschool Youngsters,” she explained.

Penny was with Julie Barnett, a mother of three, who was getting some at-home instruction in how best to prepare her youngest, Sadie, for school in subjects ranging from science to math to language arts. Role playing is key, and Penny played the part of Julie’s daughter. Barnett first heard about HIPPY from her moms’ group.

“The idea of having school brought to me where I could teach my child at home. That was nice because she wasn’t in preschool, yet. I loved what I heard and wanted to try it out,” said Barnett. “Some of the stuff can be intimidating where you don’t know ‘am I presenting this right, am I not?’ So, it gives you word for word what to say to your child. Then when I get with Sadie, I know exactly what to do and what to say.”

When Barnett started the process, she was unsure of her ability and had lots of questions for Roach.

“’I just don’t know how to start with her, and do the homework and what to say.’ I’ve seen her grow, and more confidence in herself to teach her child. A lot more,” Roach said of her work with Barnett.

Lisa Schell is coordinator of Jettco’s HIPPY program. HIPPY is free and serves 180 families, many of them in Title I school areas, scheduling in-home visits once a week, throughout the school year.

“It’s some of the most important work that I think I’ve done, supporting families with little ones and that school readiness piece,” explained Schnell. “It’s meant to be an early intervention program, so sometimes there are some significant needs that HIPPY can help out with. Whether it’s developmental delays, language acquisition, or it could just be an additional support for parents who just want to do a little bit more to get their kids ready for school.”

The curriculum is frequently updated to reflect the latest thinking on school readiness. The program’s effectiveness is measured in many ways, including an assessment known as the Bracken test.

“That shows significant gains in those academic pieces for development. From birth to three, there’s just so much going on in children’s brains and that we really need to do a lot to support that,” said Schnell.
Back at Julie’s house, the instruction for Sadie shifted to a unique reading exercise involving a wadded-up paper ball.

“By throwing the ball back and forth to each other, it helps them with eye-hand coordination which typically helps them to read,” explained Roach.

Barnett says the benefits from HIPPY are many, but one of the most important is how her relationship with Sadie has gotten stronger.

“It was amazing to have our one- to two-hours a day where we’d sit down. She’d get so excited. ‘Mom, we need to do homework.’ That was us time, where there were no phones, no TV, no people, it was just for us. It was really amazing. It gave her real confidence that she didn’t have before in school and with me,” she said.

“I think one of the things I hear most from parents is just how surprised they are about the quality time they spend with their children,” added Schnell. “Simply setting aside 15 or 20 minutes a day to focus on HIPPY strengthens the relationship between the parent and the child.”

HIPPY also provides parents a tool to support their child’s education at home.

“We used to just send our children to school and you’d think ‘okay, the teacher is taking care of it, we got it, we’ll just do the homework with them.’ I think this came about to give parents a tool,” said Roach.

“I think when she gets to kindergarten and elementary school, she’ll have more knowledge and more experience for the other areas of school that they don’t touch on in preschool. It’s an amazing program to watch your child grow in so many areas,” added Barnett.

And that’s something hippies from both worlds can appreciate.

See the JPS-TV version of this story below or here.

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